TORONTO, September 29, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party and leader Patrick Brown are once again facing controversy and the ire of party grassroots over their top-down leadership and treatment of pro-life advocates who want a place in the party.
A social conservative announced last week that the party nixed his candidacy in favor of its hand-picked nominee even though he’d sold “thousands” of memberships.
“To say that I’m disappointed is an understatement,” Nick Lauwers wrote on Facebook. “We’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point.”
Lauwers had campaigned in the Hamilton-area rural riding of Flamborough-Glenbrook for more than a year and had clocked in more than 10,000 kilometres and up to 5,000 phone calls when party brass told him in July “someone else would be chosen.”
He persevered until the party’s decision was “recently” confirmed, Lauwers wrote September 21.
Hamilton councillor Donna Skelly, who had been courted by the PC Party, will be the riding’s candidate in an October 5 nomination meeting, the Hamilton Spectator reported.
Meanwhile, another social conservative told The Rebel’s Dave Menzies that the party disqualified him from the candidate race in Scarborough Center over his pro-life social media posts.
Raphael Rosch says PC Party executive director Bob Stanley told him this over the phone, admitting he didn’t want to email Rosch because he didn’t want a “paper trail.”
“It’s OK to be socially conservative in the PC Party as long as you don’t express those views … as long as you put up a false front,” Rosch told The Rebel.
Indeed, there has been an open war between the leader and pro-family, pro-life advocates since Brown infamously flip-flopped on sex education.
Brown “was quite content to declare all so-cons persona non grata,” said Tanya Granic Allen, president of parents’ rights group Parents As First Educators. “He said he was happy there was a falling out.”
But things have now gone way beyond “a witch hunt against so-cons,” she told LifeSiteNews.
“The press is full of reports alleging cheating, stuffing ballot boxes at nomination meetings, all under the nose of staff from party headquarters who are running these meetings,” Granic Allen said.
Brown “is allowing these allegations of cheating at nominations to stand,” she added.
Jack Fonseca, senior political strategist for Campaign Life Coalition, echoes this.
“It’s stunning to see how corrupt Brown is,” he told LifeSiteNews in an email.
Brown promised during his campaign and afterward that he’d hold “fair, open nominations,” Fonseca said.
But Brown and party bosses are now “preventing grassroots party members from voting for the candidate they want to represent them in the riding.”
Worse, Brown is essentially “robbing members of the right to vote for their preferred candidate after taking their $10 membership fee. It’s ridiculously anti-democratic. It really is the leader abusing the party membership.”
Arguably, the most egregious example so far is Scarborough Center.
Police were called in during the turbulent June nomination meeting “because there was observed tampering of the ballot boxes,” Rosch told The Rebel.
Several party members then filed complaints with the party, asking that Thenusha Parani she be removed because of the alleged irregularities, the CBC reported in July.
And most of the riding association’s board has since resigned over the controversy, Rosch said.
Three other riding association boards — Kanata Carleton, Ottawa West-Nepean, and Newmarket-Aurora — had already called it quits in June, citing allegations of irregularities.
And defeated nominee for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas riding Vikram Singh sued the party in June, alleging fraud.
Most recently, party leaders averted full-scale brouhaha last week in Cambridge by reversing a decision to intervene in the nomination.
They did so after local members accused the party of breaking the rules, reported the CBC.
But some suggest a reckoning is not far off.
“The day is coming, maybe sooner than later, when Patrick Brown won’t be the leader of the PC Party anymore,” Granic Allen told LifeSiteNews.
Leading the charge against the PC brass in Cambridge was longtime Conservative activist Jim Karahalios.
He’s the acknowledged force behind the grassroots Take Back Our PC Party protest movement.
It’s ambition is to call a special general meeting of all party members, according the Take Back Our PC Party website.
According to the party’s constitution, one-third of the local riding associations can “trigger” such a special general meeting of all party members.
That special general meeting would be a full-scale “review” to “amend our constitution to ‘clarify’ things for the party leadership,” the website states.
“Many PAFE supporters still want to work within the party and try to fix it,” Granic Allen said. “So this grassroots movement Take Back Our PC Party has my full support.”
Others have responded to Brown’s leadership by starting another party.
The Ontario Alliance Party has filed registration papers with Elections Ontario and expects to officially launch sometime this fall.
As for pro-life advocates who remain PC members, they make up 40 percent of the party’s base, contends Campaign Life’s Fonseca.
Moreover, “these are the most hardworking campaign volunteers and new-member recruiters that candidates could hope to find,” he told LifeSiteNews.
So in alienating social conservatives, Brown is sawing off the branch he’s sitting on.
“If they decide to stay home on election day, or vote for some other party, or refuse to recruit their friends and neighbours to vote, all because Brown has marginalized them, the PCs will lose,” Fonseca said.
“Patrick Brown’s leadership is shaping up to be a colossal failure.”